I recently had the opportunity to connect with Daniel Booth, director of EntPR Communications and Athlete Management. Back in June 2015, Booth participated in a “Six Question” interview when he was just starting out with London-based EntPR. Given how social media and communications have advanced in that short time, I thought it would be interesting to reconnect with Booth and see how his career has progressed thus far. Connect with EntPR on their website and Twitter.
1) After participating in a “Six Questions” interview two years ago, how has your life and career changed?
A lot has changed in two years. We’ve not only grown our client base and the caliber of it, but we’ve also extended our reach into other sports and industries. As well as still working with female soccer players, we now handle PR and brand relations for a number of the England rugby team, Welsh rugby team, Premier League and Championship soccer. More recently we’ve made moves into the US sports market, handling US and European PR and brand relations for a number of NFL and baseball agencies. As mentioned in the previous interview, I am a big fan of sports, especially American sports. Ever since we set out four years ago, I have always wanted to be a part of the US sports market, and thanks to a new team member, Nick, we had time to recently put those wheels in motion. We also moved away from management and specifically focused on the publicity and commercial endorsement side of things as that is what we are good at. However, we do still offer plenty of business advice to our clients should they ask for it.
On the business side, we’ve had a few waves come at us and people we never thought of being interested in us now paying close attention.
In terms of my life changing, it has gotten harder (for the better) and we now handle clients not only in sports, but also in TV, radio and music. I am a firm believe in working smart instead of being a workaholic, so yes, the stress has gotten slightly increased nowadays. However, I still have my downtime and weekends if none of our clients have events or commitments I need to attend.
2) In your mind, what is the most important part of managing an athlete’s public relations?
I think in specific terms, reputation and image management. Athletes nowadays are under the microscope more than ever before with social media playing a big part in their day-to-day lives. They and others around them record everything from parties to hanging out on a beach so they need to be careful and always aware of the people around them and exactly what they’re up to. We have plenty of clients who go to a party and get their photograph taken on the sly by pretty much everyone there. It then ends up on Twitter and Instagram and sure, there’s nothing bad about the image, but if they’d told someone they’re at home sleeping, like the team manager, when in fact they were out at a party (drinking or not) they get caught. It is not just about getting caught out leaving the club by the paparazzi anymore, everyone with a camera on their phone is now a paparazzi. They all want to appear to be that cool kid hanging out with pro athletes or celebrities.
3) How can “full service agencies” improve their public relations efforts?
This is something I feel passionately about, there are too many “full service agencies” out there offering the whole package when they don’t know enough about all that they’re offering. I spoke with an agency recently who said they had no need for PR as they handled it in house with their respective agents. So my reply was “well how many of your agents know what to do should a client get caught out or accused of something and their picture is over the internet in less than an hour?” He couldn’t respond, surprisingly. These are individuals that are mostly great at their jobs, if you want the most out of your contract, employ these guys to negotiate it. But handling your image? A lot of them would end up huddled in a corner behind a desk with their phone on silent or repeating the same “I’m guilty” response of “No comment.” If you want to improve your PR efforts, employ an individual who has experience handling the media, crisis communication and reputation management. But they also need to be able to gain press and develop a talent into a brand as opposed to just fire fighting.
4) If smaller agencies want to handle their clients’ PR themselves, what are some tips they can use?
The same goes for smaller agencies. I appreciate that it might not have the budget to employ someone full time, but companies like ENTPR work on a retainer basis which means all it takes is one phone call and we sweep in and handle a situation or build a client’s profile. This happens at the click of a button. Working like this means you usually can end up paying less than having in-house PR, so normally it is a better option for the smaller agency. Also, education, granted you may not be able to do it yourself even after you’ve been educated (PR is all about relationships at the end of the day) but it is good to have a loose idea of what a publicist might do and you don’t end up sitting there looking baffled.
5) With the increased use of social media, how do you see the public relations industry changing for athletes?
It’s changed already, as an athlete or any celebrity publicist, we now need to be aware of what our clients are up to 24/7, which isn’t easy. You need to keep track of what they’re posting each day, etc. and if it may hurt their current endorsement deals or image. There are plenty of methods we use in terms of notifications on social media platforms and updates from an athlete’s friends, agents or managers. On the positive side, we’re able to secure a lot of one-off sponsorships for posts on social media as well as this being the major part of most deals long-term. They have to commit to “x” amount of posts on social media per month, plus all the usual stuff. Even athletes with 20,000 followers now use their social media platforms as a way of expanding their pay checks. This being said, as their publicist you need to be aware of what they’re posting and helping the client to post relevant material each day so it doesn’t just look like an advertising board. Great examples of this are the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Liam Williams who is one of the superstars on the Welsh rugby team. It looks genuine and it is posts about their lives.
6) How does ENTPR differentiate itself from “full service agencies”?
We specialize. We know what we’re good at and we do it well. You want to build your clients image and exposure? Give us a call. If you need them out of a sticky situation with a sponsor, give us a call. If they’ve just been thrown in jail for a DUI, we can handle that process and make sure it doesn’t effect them on or off the field. You get the idea. As an agency, we care about our clients first – it takes priority over anything else. We want them to feel safe and comfortable in their own skin and lives. Not everyone wants to be a superstar in the spotlight and we understand the individual, helping our clients, teams and respective agencies to manage their exposure.